From providing health screenings at the farmers market to vision checks for children and much more, the Federal Way Lions Club stays busy helping the community throughout the year.
It’s all in keeping with the international club’s motto of, “Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.”
With 1.4 million members internationally, the Lions Club is the largest service organization in the world, and this year, the club celebrated its 100-year anniversary. The local Lions Club chapter, however, is a mere 63 years old, having started in 1954.
The focus is still, however, helping out.
“So if there’s a need, we’re there providing for the needs of the people,” said Dorothy Burt, a member of the local Lions Club since 1992.
While the Lions Club organization originally welcomed both men and women, in 1925, the club became solely for men, whereas the women started their own Lioness clubs. Later, however, the international organization loosened its restrictions and in 1987, women were invited back.
“Before, they were typical male meetings, and the women helped clean our act up,” Bob Darrigan, a 28-year local Lions Club member, said.
Since then, the local Lions Club has worked to become more inclusive and recognize everyone’s contributions.
Robert Hershey, a member for about 10 years, said the club is typically involved with two events per month, and the money raised stays within the community, while the projects benefit people locally.
Among the many projects and activities the Lions Club participates in is the annual “Storm the Sound with Salmon” event each spring. Members also volunteer for the Federal Way Historical Society to provide tours and talks when the society’s historic cabin sites are opened to the public in the spring and summer months.
Every April, the local Lions Club also teams up with other chapter members, in conjunction with the city of Auburn and the Department of Fish &Wildlife, to host a free fishing derby for children with special needs. The club also recognizes a boy and girl in middle school each year with a Student of the Year award.
Darrigan said the Lions Club has strengthened its partnerships with other service clubs to get more done and benefit more people. For example, the club partners with other service organizations to provide dictionaries to every third-grader in Federal Way elementary schools. While the Lions Club used to take on the project solo, Darrigan realized by bringing more service clubs in, more children could receive dictionaries.
“Any time we bring more people to the table, you’re going to get more things done. It’s a given,” Darrigan said.
It also coordinates with South King Fire &Rescue and the Federal Way police guild to host the annual basketball game between the two organizations, which raises money for sight and hearing projects.
One of the Lions Club’s biggest fundraisers, however, is its annual Lions Club Scholarship Car Show, which took place this past weekend.
After this year’s event, the club will have raised over $100,000 for scholarships to students who are pursuing higher learning, either at a trade school or college.
Darrigan, who has worked hard through the years to not only promote the club but also build partnerships, said one of the lessons he learned long ago has helped the local Lions Club in its mission.
“When you want to get something done, you go to the people who are busy,” he joked.
While the Federal Way Lions Club has a healthy 36 members, Darrigan said everyone who is committed and dedicated to helping the community is welcome to join.
“We really want people who have a heart for the community,” he said.
The club meets at noon on the first and third Tuesday of the month at the Denny’s on 320th Street.
For more information about the Federal Way Lions Club, visit www.federalwaylions.org.